IoT & Materials
The Internet of Things (IoT) is seen as an important field of development for innovations in the coming decade. This applies in particular to the fields of health and medicine. Surgical instruments with tracking function, wound dressings with sensors for detecting infections, Petri dishes with integrated systems for monitoring cultivation conditions or the Unique Device Identification (UDI) for medical devices are just a few examples of the wide range of attractive and innovative applications of the IoT approach in the healthcare sector.
The research focus "IoT & Materials" systematically investigates the interaction between plastics and their manufacturing processes on the one hand and electronic IoT components on the other. Recommendations are developed for the design of both the components and the choice of manufacturing processes, process parameters and IoT components.
Many medical products are designed as sterilized disposables, a trend that will continue in the future. For this reason, many medical products are manufactured from plastics due to the mass processing methods (especially injection moulding) and the generally low material costs. For medical IoT products, this means that the compatibility of mass production of medical plastic components and the integration of IoT electronics suitable for mass production is of particular importance in order to be able to realize cost-effective medical IoT products. The integration of IoT components in all developments of plastic medical devices must be taken into account. This poses special manufacturing challenges for a function-preserving integration of the often miniaturized and highly sensitive electronic components. In addition to the design of the plastic component and the electronic component, the design of the production tool and the control of the processing parameters (temperature, injection pressure) must also be taken into account. In addition, use in the medical environment poses a particular challenge for IoT augmented plastic components. These include, for example, the following:
- the stress caused by necessary sterilization processes or disinfection procedures with the risk of damaging the component components
- use in the aqueous environment of the organism as well as resistance to medical fluids with the risk of short-circuit formation and corrosion
- the thermal destruction of sensors by the necessary manufacturing processes
- surface technology for composite optimization with regard to close contour integration, force absorption and adhesion
- limitation in the choice of materials due to the demand for biocompatibility of plastic-electronic composites
- the risk of the release of toxic and allergenic substances from integrated electronics (e.g. copper)
- the influence of plastics on electromagnetic waves.
SmartMold project film (2016): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfYK0bD2Iwk
As a result of a presentation at the VDI symposium "Plastics in Medical Technology 2018" in Friedrichshafen on 10 and 11 April 2018, our white paper on this topic was published free of charge: https://www.vdi-wissensforum.de/formulare/whitepaper/va/2112/
Zentrum Digitalisierung Bayern (ZD.B)
Community of Practice (CoP) "IoT & Materials"
Lehrstuhl für Höchstfrequenztechnik, TUM
(Dipl.-Ing. Valerie Werner, Dipl.-Ing. Matthias Zeppenfeld, Tim Scherzer, M.Sc, Dr. med. Markus Eblenkamp)
The integration of IoT functionality should become a matter of course in the manufacture of medical plastic components. A prerequisite for the realization of broad applications is the development of generally valid manufacturing strategies. Injection moulding with thermoplastics, vulcanisation with elastomers, dipping with lacquers and casting compounds as well as additive packaging represent the essential plastic processing methods for joining electronics and plastics. The Chair of Medical Technology develops concrete recommendations for action on the question: Which electronic components can be combined with which plastics and processes for which applications? Which suitability profiles result from this for applications inside and outside medical technology, and can upward and downward compatibilities be derived for electronic material combinations?
(Dipl.-Ing. Valerie Werner, Dr. med. Markus Eblenkamp)
Wireless communication is an essential component in the development of Smart Medical Devices. The Wireless Personal Area Network (WPAN) offers possibilities for connecting energy-saving communication technologies to microcontroller systems with sensors and actuators using passive RFID, Bluetooth Low Energy and ZigBee. Under the aspect of the close contour integration into medically relevant plastic components, electromagnetic waves are damped by the material environment and their antenna structures are detuned. Therefore, the project Wirlpol (wireless & polymers) investigates the influence of near-contour plastic peripherals on the evaluation of the electromagnetic transmission behavior and develops recommendations for the iterative development of frequency-dependent antenna structures. In combination with testing in medical applications, the question of how thin-walled the respective polymer matrix may be above the electronics should be clarified so that it is protected from external influences, is non-toxic to the environment and the signal transmission remains efficient and stable.
(Dr. med. Markus Eblenkamp, Dipl.-Ing. Valerie Werner, Stefan Leonhardt, M.Sc.)
The great advances and novel possibilities of additive manufacturing open up the perspective of creating highly differentiated packaging for biosensors in terms of process technology and thus realizing patient-specific smart medical products. On the one hand, this technology can protect thermally sensitive sensor areas in the packaging process and, on the other hand, the permeability of the packaging can be specifically adjusted for measured variables. In contrast to conventional packaging processes, additive manufacturing also offers the possibility of integrating the packaging process directly into component production, which is beneficial for miniaturization and savings in process steps. Within the framework of the project, technological and material-scientific fundamentals for plastic packaging of biosensors by means of additive manufacturing and for medical use are to be developed.